7 Things To Rally Around To Support Feminism In 2017
2016 was a year of political turmoil, heartbreaking losses, and global discord. 2017 is poised to be another year of great change — in fact, plenty of damage has already been done: Trump advanced the DAPL and Keystone Pipelines, expanded the Global Gag Rule, and moved to block refugees entry to the U.S. (just to name a few things). But while it's important to focus on resisting these attacks, we must also recognize the positive forces that still exist and need support now more than ever. Here are just a few.
The power of civilian activism: The Women’s March on Washington, as well marches around the nation and world, recently drew millions of people. As we head into 2017, let’s keep this dynamic, powerful, can-do spirit of activism alive. It is up to each and every one of us to hold our politicians, each other, and ourselves accountable.
Our new U.N. secretary general: Former Portugese prime minister António Guterres was sworn in on January 1st, 2017 as the United Nation’s ninth secretary general. He’s known for his social democratic politics, progressive Catholicism, and for being both furiously hardworking and fiercely compassionate. With a background in international diplomacy as well as Portugese national politics, Guterres is well-positioned to succeed as the leader of the world’s largest organization for international peace, cooperation, and advancement.
Reproductive rights: We should be thankful for Planned Parenthood and all it has accomplished in the last 100 years, but we’ve got to keep fighting. Trump has already signed an executive order stating that federal dollars cannot go to organizations that provide abortion services and Planned Parenthood faced many other attacks in recent years. In the last several months, though, Planned Parenthood has fought back and gained vocal, influential supporters around the globe — and can continue to use all the help it can get.
Diversity and Inclusivity in the Arts: After the #OscarsSoWhite controversy last year, this year’s nominees more accurately honor the presence and value of people of color in film, such as performers featured in films like “Fences,” “Lion,” “Hidden Figures,” and “Moonlight.” Of course, one year's nominations do not make up for generations of racial discrimination and marginalization in this industry, but it is absolutely a step in the right direction. I look forward to seeing a more diverse group of Oscar winners this year, too.
Online communities: As a member of what the New York Times and National Geographic have dubbed the "selfie generation," I can confirm that it is easy for my peers and me to get distracted by the disturbing dopamine rush that accompanies a new Instagram, Snapchat, or Twitter notification. But I’ll argue that the internet and social media do connect us more than they keep us apart, and that we’re better for it. Today, I’m excited to be inspired by meaningful quotes on Instagram, participate in the internet’s collective excitement when a brilliant artist like Beyoncé drops an album, and more than anything, to connect with, understand, and relate to others around the world with just a few taps.
The real, live human beings in your life who love you, care about you, and make you see your worth: As storyteller and activist Jamia Wilson said at the 2016 "She’s the First" conference in New York City, “The people who make you see your worth, who believe in your inherent value and goodness as a human being—those are the people you want in your life.” Here’s to building confidence, practicing self-love, and cultivating strong relationships this year!
Your voice: We can talk about the importance of activism all we want, but at the end of the day, it comes down to this: are you bold enough to speak up? In 2017, it is more important than ever to stand up for the issues, causes, and people we believe in. It’s not always easy to speak up, but we must always have the courage to do so.
If there is one thing we should leave behind in 2016, it’s ignorance — which is perhaps a lofty goal, but a girl can dream. As Rebecca Solnit writes in a wonderful essay on Virginia Woolf in the New Yorker, “To me, the grounds for hope are simply that we don’t know what will happen next, and that the unlikely and the unimaginable transpire quite regularly.”
Besides, what would we have if not for hope?
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